The City of West Covina has been plagued with financial mishaps for years. They have been Audited by the State of California in 2015 and again in 2020 (currently in progress). We need leadership that will stop the practice of deficit spending. As a resident, we cannot just spend more than our income, otherwise we will go bankrupt. The city budget should be treated the same way.
On May 19, 2020 the City Council voted 5-0 to approve a FISCAL EMERGENCY for the City of West Covina. Click the button below to view the meeting on YouTube. This has granted the city manager unprecedented power that is being wielded to make changes to the city without the normal governmental processes.
We have been fortunate to have our own city controlled Police Department and Fire Department for decades. Retaining control of these departments means that we can address issues and correct problems very quickly. Losing local control will increase response times and harm public safety. Losing local control slows the process of updating policy and addressing concerns. We can, however, look at various hybrid staffing models for various functions of the public safety departments that will allow the local control of our public safety departments. We cannot keep forcing our police officers and firefighters to work overtime. We cannot allow our police and fire departments to use overtime as a way to keep personnel levels low. We need new young police officers and firefighters so our veteran officers and firefighters can help train them and hopefully those new recruits will stay here for many years to come.
In 2020, the City of West Covina was estimated to be more than $185 Million under funded to the CalPERS Retirement System. This causes a huge burden on the general fund budget each and every year. This liability must be brought under control to prevent the city from going bankrupt. This cannot be put off any longer! The city has recently applied for "Pension Obligation Bonds" that will essentially "refinance" up to $150 Million of that money to a lower interest rate. This is currently being reviewed by the court system. However, these "POBs" do have some risk and could be declined by the courts. We cannot just rely on this answer. The city has put off addressing this problem for many years. We cannot put this off any longer.
The California State Auditor listed West Covina 17th worst city out of 471 cities in California. The California State Auditor asked the California Legislature to approve a state audit to determine the problems in February 2020.
On July 7, 2020 the City Council voted to issue "Lease Revenue Bonds" to fund what is now $200+ Million in unfunded pension liability. It appears the city has withdrawn the POB's from the court to instead issue "LRBs." I am currently researching the details of what a Lease Revenue Bond compared to a Pension Obligation Bond means for the city. My position is forthcoming.
Many people are aware that the residents voted 4 to 1 against a tax measure in March 2020 (Nearly 80% of all voters said NO). I am proud to have worked on that campaign and with so many people in the resounding defeat of that tax increase. Government should not be coming for more tax dollars when they cannot manage the existing tax dollars responsibly.
People wanted to make it sound like we were just "anti-tax" but in fact, that measure was so very flawed in how it was written that the only option was to vote NO. We were able to work with people from all over the city, representing all political views, and from so many demographic backgrounds. It was great to work with them all and I think many of us learned a lot about each other.
As a resident, as a taxpayer, you should feel as though your elected representatives are open and honest in their roles and decisions. The city council and city staff should openly discuss the items they are considering. Having a "spirited" debate on city business is healthy and can help to educate the public on the issues. In recent years, that has not been the norm. It seems as though the city council is more concerned about having short meetings and getting home, rather than having discussions. Our city council members should not agree on every topic, but they should have open discussions at city council meetings.